Big sagebrush does not root or crown sprout but relies entirely on seed for regeneration. The soil seed bank in sagebrush communities is short-lived, with most seeds germinating within one year of dispersal (Ziegenhagen and Miller 2009). Therefore, recovery following disturbance is dependent on regular replenishment of the seed bank. A better understanding of seed production variability and how that variability regulates seed bank dynamics is needed. The most widespread and common sagebrush is big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) with three prominent subspecies: Wyoming big sagebrush (A. tridentata ssp. wyomingensis), basin big sagebrush (A. tridentata ssp. tridentata), and mountain big sagebrush (A. tridentata ssp. vaseyana). Our objective was to test the utility of various, easily measured morphological traits for estimating mountain big sagebrush (MBS) seed production potential. We compare the reliability of each trait across multiple sites and consider the practicality of scaling up protocols for making quick, stand-level assessments.
Kitchen SG, Landeen ML, Allphen L, Petersen SL. 2017. Understanding mountain big sagebrush seed production variability. US Department of Agriculture Forest Service RMRS Science Spotlight, 1 p.